HSBC is moving 1,200 call centre staff to permanent home working as part of its shrinkage of office space.
The move comes after an employee survey and an offer of £300 a year to cover expenses such as higher heating and electricity bills. HSBC also found that a quarter of its 1,800 call centre staff wanted to go into the office for some of the time while 5 per cent preferred to go back permanently.
The plan comes after the bank’s leadership team revealed plans in February to shrink office space around the world by about 40 per cent over several years, reflecting employees’ wish for more flexible arrangements and an opportunity to cut costs.
Unite, the union, said that it was broadly supportive of the change as it was voluntary. However, it said that banks should not force their staff to work at home if they did not want to and that employers must ensure that staff do not feel isolated and are properly supported.
HSBC, which employs 32,000 people in the UK out of a global workforce of 200,000, said: “We are in discussions with contact centre colleagues who serve HSBC UK retail customers about ways that we can offer flexibility on work location while ensuring the way we work meets our customers’ needs. These discussions are continuing.”
Other banks have not set out such radical plans. Jes Staley, the boss of Barclays, has said that working from home is getting “old” for employees.
Victoria Short, UK chief executive of Randstad, a recruitment company, said analysis showed that employees at home were working earlier and later than before. This may be due to fewer distractions or because lay-offs have led to larger workloads, she said.